Paul R. Hollrah
The Impatient Mr. FitzgeraldAs Democrats
inside and outside the Obama camp struggle to circle the wagons around
The One (Rush Limbaugh noted that, while Jesus walked on water, Obama
seems to walk on cesspools), there are two critical questions that
arise. First, why did Obama resign so early, and finally, why was U.S.
Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald so uncharacteristically impatient to arrest
the Governor of Illinois and his chief of staff? What was so compelling
about this scandal that makes it different from the scandalous behavior
of every big city Democratic machine in America?
December 15, 2008
Obama resigned his
senate seat on Sunday, November 16, just twelve days after becoming the
presumptive president-elect and sixty-six days before his scheduled
inauguration. His timing would not have been critical were it not for
the fact that the Congress is attempting to deal with the greatest
financial crisis since the Carter Administration and an automobile
industry that is on the verge of total collapse. So why would Obama
resign in mid-November, leaving his caucus perhaps one vote short of the
super-majority required to overcome a Republican filibuster?
Had Obama waited until
the last week of December to resign, Governor Blagojevich could then
have appointed a replacement just days or hours prior to the swearing in
of the 111th Congress, giving his replacement seniority over
all of the members of the incoming freshman class... but he didn’t do
that. Why? Was there some inherent interest in giving the governor the
maximum amount of time in which to "horse trade” for the appointment?
When questioned about
the matter, Obama said, "I had no contact with the governor or his
office, and so we were not – I was not aware of what was
happening... ” This is in stark contrast to what Obama’s principle
advisor and strategist, his alter-ego, the man who knows everything and
makes no strategic mistakes, David Axelrod, had to say in a Fox News
interview on November 23. Referring to Obama, he said, "I know he’s
talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names, many of
which have surfaced.”
In his response, Obama
paused in the middle of a sentence to change the word "we” to "I.” Why?
Was he demonstrating that he already understands the value of "plausible
Is there anyone alive
who truly believes that the junior senator from Illinois, who has just
become the presumptive president-elect of the United States, would not
have at least several conversations with a longtime associate, the
Governor of Illinois, whose job it is to appoint his replacement? Is
anyone truly that naïve? But then, after Obama was caught in what was
clearly a lie, Axelrod attempted damage control, issuing a statement
saying that he had misspoken in his November 23 statement. He said,
"They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.”
(There, there now...
Daddy Axelrod has kissed the "ouchie” and it won’t hurt Obama any more.
All the bad reporters and all the bad Republicans will soon go away.)
Then comes the
question, why was the U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, so anxious to
arrest the governor. Following the arrests, Fitzgerald said there were
"a lot of things going on that were imminent... we were in the middle of
a corruption crime spree, and we wanted to stop it.”
Those "imminent” things
were, in order, Blagojevich’s appointment of Obama’s successor and
Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. So the question
arises, what interest does the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois have
in insuring that Barack Obama’s inauguration is not tainted by scandal?
And why would Fitzgerald go out of his way to make the point that Obama,
himself, was not implicated in the case? How about Obama’s closest
If Fitzgerald had
waited to spring his trap until after Blagojevich had made his
appointment, knowing that the appointment process had been corrupted,
how many more Illinois Democrats could he have sent off to prison? And
how many members of Obama’s staff would have joined them? What is needed
is an immediate subpoena of the telephone logs for the governor’s
office, the governor’s home, Obama’s home, the Office of the
President-Elect in Chicago, and all the appropriate cell phones. And
since Fitzgerald has already demonstrated that he allows political
events to influence his decisions, those subpoenas should be issued by
an independent counsel.
Patrick Fitzgerald is
not lacking in patience. On December 30, 2003, Fitzgerald was appointed
special counsel, charged with determining who it was that had leaked the
name of Valerie Plame, an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency,
to columnist Robert Novak.
Shortly after his
appointment, Fitzgerald learned that the source of the leak was
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a "rogue” political
appointee and no friend of the Bush Administration. However, Fitzgerald
was not satisfied with bringing his investigation to a quick conclusion;
he was after bigger game... someone close to the president. His number
one target was presidential advisor Karl Rove.
Finally, after nearly
two years of grand jury harassment, demanding that Rove and Lewis
"Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, recall precisely
every word of conversations they’d had with reporters more then two
years earlier, Fitzgerald used Libby’s "imperfect memory” to charge him
with five counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of
justice. And when Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson said, "I certainly
hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something
happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury
In response, Fitzgerald
said, "That talking point won’t fly... The truth is the engine of our
judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is
lost... if we were to walk away from this, we might as well hand in our
jobs.” So where was Fitzgerald when Bill Clinton committed, not
"technical” perjury, but actual perjury, and every Democrat in the
United States Senate voted to let him get away with it?
On March 6, 2007,
"Scooter” Libby was found guilty of four of the five charges. He was
fined $250,000 and sentenced to 2½ years in prison and two years
probation. The cost of Fitzgerald’s pursuit of Rove and Libby came to
more than $1.5 million.
Now Fitzgerald has
before him a far "juicier” case of political corruption, with much
bigger fish to fry, and it remains to be seen whether he will pursue it
with the same tenacity with which he pursued poor "Scooter” Libby.
Fitzgerald can make by far the largest political crime bust in American
history and, being a Chicagoan, he won’t even have to leave home to do
As Chicago Democrats
gathered for a victory celebration at Blagojevich’s campaign
headquarters on election night in 2002, he announced to the crowd,
"Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, Illinois has voted for change.” Seems
I’ve heard that same thing in more recent times... either that or
there’s one hell of an echo in here.